The Scariest Book for Halloween

Looking for thrills this Halloween? Look no further than the book, described by the LA Times as: “… a far more frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell … the thesis that propaganda, whether its ends are demonstrably good or bad, is not only destructive to democracy, it is perhaps the most serious threat to humanity operating in the modern world.”

Jacques Ellul writes in his book Propaganda:

“… propaganda destroys all individuality, is capable of creating only a collective personality, and that it is an obstacle to the free development of the personality.

Everywhere we find men who pronounce as highly personal truths what they have read in the papers only an hour before, and whose beliefs are merely the result of a powerful propaganda. Everywhere we find people who have blind confidence in a political party, a general, a movie star, a country, or a cause, and who will not tolerate the slightest challenge to that god. Everywhere we meet people who, because they are filled with the consciousness of Higher Interests they must serve unto death, are no longer capable of making the simplest moral or intellectual distinctions or of engaging in the most elementary reasoning. Yet all this is acquired without effort, experience, reflection, or criticism — by the destructive shock effect of well-made propaganda. We meet this alienated man at every turn, and are possibly already one ourselves.”

What is particularly frightening, and the author makes a compelling point of it, is that propaganda is omnipresent, and over time humans became dependent on its effects, they crave it, and cannot function without it.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, another French writer, puts it very simply, and succinctly, though perhaps not without male chauvinism: “The public is like a woman, it wants to be fucked.”

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